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  HOME | Caribbean

Documentary Studies Armed Rebellion in Puerto Rico 65 Years Ago

SAN JUAN – Moviemaker Jose Manuel Davila is shooting a feature film entitled “1950” about the armed uprising that some 100 members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party led 67 years ago against U.S. rule on the island.

The film highlights the actions carried out by independence fighters between Oct. 30 and Nov. 10, 1950, Davila told Efe in an interview.

“It’s a very human documentary. In the project I didn’t want members of the Nationalist Party to look like a bunch of crazy people, without any fanaticism or nationalism on my part. I didn’t want to skid down either of those two slippery slopes, and if I end up doing that, I’ll see the whole thing as a failure,” the 30-year-old Puerto Rican said.

The graduate in filmmaking from the Autonomous University of Barcelona started working on the documentary while preparing his master’s thesis, which is about that group of Nationalist Party young people.

However, the thesis made no mention of the uprising on Oct. 30, 1950, in response to the move to make Puerto Rico a Free Associated State of the United States, the political status that was finally approved in 1952 and which continues to this day.

Blanca Canales proclaimed the Second Republic of Puerto Rico and for the first time the Puerto Rican flag was raised in public though the island was under U.S. control, and at a time when it was even forbidden to carry or display it.

Fighting broke out for several days in towns around the island, including Jayuya, which was bombed by the U.S. Air Force, and La Fortaleza, the San Juan residence of then-Gov. Luis Muńoz Marin.

Following the U.S. military attack against Jayuya, two Puerto Rican nationalists in Washington attacked Blair House, where President Harry S. Truman was then staying.

The president was unharmed, but one of the attackers and a White House police officer died in the incident.

In order to compile anecdotes about what happened more than six decades ago, Davila interviewed four members of the Nationalist Party who survived the uprising: Ricardo Diaz, Heriberto Marin, Edmilio Marin and Carlos Padilla.

“They are lives full of heroism and suffering, because they stood up to a great military power and went through years of suffering and imprisonment,” Davila said about the uprising in which 15 nationalists, nine police and National Guardsmen, and five civilians died.

Also taking part in those events as chief organizer was independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos, who, according to Davila, carried on the battle for several days before he was finally arrested.

That politician is today considered the leading figure of the last century’s fight for independence.

“Their purpose was to make a call to the world about the colonialism in Puerto Rico, for which its political status would soon become a farcical disguise, and they did not want to allow that,” Davila said.

The shoot of the feature film continues, but the production team hasn’t the money to continue filming, so a campaign is underway to collect funds through the Web site www.indiegogo.com/projects/documental-1950, and to encourage those interested to donate what they can so the work can be finished.


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